Transfer your pension

You may wish to transfer some or all of your pots to a different provider if:

  • your current provider doesn’t offer the pension option you want
  • you want to combine pots to simplify your pensions
  • you want to pay less in fees
  • you want a higher income from your pension
  • you’re moving overseas and want to move your pension to a scheme in that country

You may have to get financial advice if you want to transfer a pension.

Transferring your pot to a non-registered UK pension scheme or an ‘unrecognised’ overseas scheme will mean you’ll have to pay tax on the transfer as it will be an ‘unauthorised payment’.

Before moving your pension

You’ll need to find out if your current provider will allow you to transfer and if the provider you’re moving to will accept it.

Ask your current provider how long it will take to transfer and if you:

  • have to pay fees when you transfer
  • lose any right you had to take your money at a certain age
  • lose any special features, eg a guaranteed annuity rate
  • lose any right you had to take a tax-free lump sum of more than 25% of your pension pot

You should also ask the provider you’re moving to if you’ll have to make regular payments into the new pension.

If your employer makes contributions to your pension ask if they can change contributions to your new one.

Taking your pension money

Think about how you’d like to take your pension money, eg as an annuity or adjustable income, before you transfer.

Find out if your new provider offers the option you want.

Investments and fees

You can check what investment funds your new provider offers and consider what level of risk you’re happy with. You can do this yourself or with help from a financial adviser.

You’ll also need to know what fees the new provider will charge you.

Transfer value

Ask your provider what the ‘transfer value’ of your pot is. This is the amount your pot would be worth if you moved to a different provider.

Looking at the transfer value of your pot may help you work out if your pension has an ‘early exit fee’.

If the transfer value is the same as your pot value, it’s unlikely you’ll be charged a fee when you transfer.

If the transfer value is lower than your total pot value, you may be charged an early exit fee. Your pot may have had ‘market value reduction’ or ‘adjustment’ applied – ask your provider about the difference in values.

Combine different pension pots

It’s likely that you’ve paid into more than one defined contribution pension pot if you’ve had more than one job. Combining your pots could make your pensions easier to manage and help you save on fees.

You may be charged fees to transfer one pot to another. You could also lose any special features, eg a guaranteed annuity rate.

You’ll need to speak to each provider separately to find out their rules on combining pots.

Defined benefit pensions

If you have a final salary or career average pension (‘defined benefit’), you would need to transfer it to a defined contribution pension to be able to choose one of the pension options.

The value of your defined benefit pension gets transferred as cash and is invested into a defined contribution pot. You would then have the same options as people with defined contribution pensions.

Some defined benefit pensions don’t allow you to transfer out – ask your scheme administrator.

Think very carefully before you transfer a defined benefit pension into a defined contribution one – you would be giving up a fixed income for a less certain one and it’s possible you’ll be worse off.

Scams

If someone contacts you unexpectedly and says they can help you transfer your pot it’s likely to be a pension scam.

Getting financial advice

You can get impartial advice about transferring a pension from a financial adviser.

You’ll pay a one-off fee if you see the adviser once or a regular fee if the advice is ongoing.

You must get financial advice if you want to transfer from a:

  • defined benefit pension worth more than £30,000
  • defined contribution pension worth more than £30,000 with a guarantee about what you’ll be paid when you retire (eg a guaranteed annuity rate)

Get free help and advice

You can get free and impartial information about transferring your pension from the Money Advice Service and the Pensions Advisory Service.